Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 39

easy to see why the Kaolians needed no navy; their cities,
hidden in the midst of this towering forest, must be entirely
invisible from above, nor could a landing be made by any but the
smallest fliers, and then only with the greatest risk of accident.

How Thurid and Matai Shang were to land I could not imagine, though
later I was to learn that to the level of the forest top there rises
in each city of Kaol a slender watchtower which guards the Kaolians
by day and by night against the secret approach of a hostile fleet.
To one of these the hekkador of the Holy Therns had no difficulty
in approaching, and by its means the party was safely lowered to
the ground.

As Woola and I approached the bottom of the declivity the ground
became soft and mushy, so that it was with the greatest difficulty
that we made any headway whatever.

Slender purple grasses topped with red and yellow fern-like fronds
grew rankly all about us to the height of several feet above my
head.

Myriad creepers hung festooned in graceful loops from tree to tree,
and among them were several varieties of the Martian "man-flower,"
whose blooms have eyes and hands with which to see and seize the
insects which form their diet.

The repulsive calot tree was, too, much in evidence. It is a
carnivorous plant of about the bigness of a large sage-brush such
as dots our western plains. Each branch ends in a set of strong
jaws, which have been known to drag down and devour large and
formidable beasts of prey.

Both Woola and I had several narrow escapes from these greedy,
arboreous monsters.

Occasional areas of firm sod gave us intervals of rest from the
arduous labor of traversing this gorgeous, twilight swamp, and it
was upon one of these that I finally decided to make camp for the
night which my chronometer warned me would soon be upon us.

Many varieties of fruit grew in abundance about us; and as Martian
calots are omnivorous, Woola had no difficulty in making a square
meal after I had brought down the viands for him. Then, having
eaten, too, I lay down with my back to that of my faithful hound,
and dropped into a deep and dreamless sleep.

The forest was shrouded in impenetrable darkness when a low growl
from Woola awakened me. All about us I could hear the stealthy
movement of great, padded feet, and now and then the wicked gleam
of green eyes upon us. Arising, I drew my long-sword and waited.

Suddenly

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Gryf.
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Lo.